If you thought Peoria, Arizona has something to do with Peoria, Illinois, you’d be right. The city was founded by four families who came to Arizona in 1886 and named the place after their hometown up North.
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However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Nobody flocks to Peoria, Illinois in the Winter. Quite the contrary. And Arizona’s namesake to the North is now a rustbelt city watching its population decline. Peoria, Arizona, on the other hand, has experienced a growth in population as folks from the North and California come in droves to settle in Arizona. Read More...
And there’s good reason for this influx. Peoria’ Arizona’s climate is great. The surrounding landscape is beautiful and home prices are a bargain, especially compared to California. That’s why Peoria, Arizona has seen a 24% increase in its population over the last ten years to 191,000 people, up from 154,000 in 2010.
Money magazine ranked Peoria in the top 50 places to live in the entire country. In fact, it came in at 29th. That’s pretty impressive given there are literally tens of thousands of towns in America. But it’s not surprising when you see the place. Peoria pretty much checks all of the boxes. The schools are great and there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy and fit. azbigmedia also ranked Peoria the #1 city to live in Arizona for 2021. And did I mention the climate?
Peoria has lots to brag about. It’s economy is rocking, jobs are plentiful, and the high schools graduate 94% of its students, which is well above the national average. For a place, at its inception, that looked like a giant dirt parking lot, Peoria now boasts that it has more than 30 city parks, 20 miles of trails, and three public swimming pools.
The cost of living in Peoria is only slightly above the national norm. And if you are from a Northern state you don’t have to worry about – or pay for – costly oil to heat your home. Finally, the streets are clean and tidy and garbage is picked up on time. And did I mention the climate?
Nature can be funny sometimes, especially how it distributes certain attributes to one place, and other attributes to another. For example, some places have more water than they know what to do with but they hardly ever see the sun. Other places have abundant sunshine but rarely get a drop of rain.
Back in the late 1800’s that’s pretty much Arizona’s plight; lots of sun, not much water.
Families from Peoria, Illinois were very aware of this when they arrive in Peoria, sunburnt and, no doubt, thirsty. Moreover, when they kicked the dirt, it was dry-as-a-bone. To solve this problem, they reached back to the practices of the Native-Americans who once lived there. The indigenous Hohokam tribe prospered in the area by building hundreds of miles of ditches to bring water the desert.
The Illinois pioneers followed the vestiges of this now abandoned irrigation system and built their own. They made the desert bloom and soon the area was teaming with productive farms and a growing population.
Today, many of those farms are gone, replaced by housing developments and shopping destinations. Perhaps the largest and most well known is Peroria's P83 Entertainment District, which offers dozens of family entertainment options including great shopping, fine restaurants, numerous festivals and events throughout the year. It's also the gateway to the nearby Peoria Sports Complex, which is the Spring Training home for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.
If it gets too hot, you can enjoy Lake Pleasant, a popular place for water sports. They also offer ranger led talks and hiking tours of the area. There are nine hiking trails and 148 camping sites at Lake Pleasant too. You can also hop on a river boat, cruise the lake and enjoy a fine dinner.
If horseback riding is what interests you, there are three places where you can mount up and ride the trails either alone or with a guide.
The Rio Vista Recreation Center offers residents of Peoria many programs and amenities including racquet ball courts, a gym and climbing wall. Perhaps a Broadway show or movie is something you’d prefer. If so, the Arizona Broadway Theater is the thing for you. You can relax on overstuffed, red leather seats, watch a show and have dinner. It’s Peoria Arizona’s answer the New York City’s Theater District.
Last updated - February 15, 2023
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